Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kitschy and Tacky Hanukkah Gifts

Somehow throughout the course of writing (well, technically typing) all of these blog posts, I managed to survive without a pair of $50 "Shalom Y'all" socks from Neiman Marcus with Jewish stars emblazoned on them. That was not a typo! $50 socks! My grandmother, who is of sound mind at 93 (keinahora!), presented me with these tacky looking socks to wear at our annual family Hanukkah party.

Arthur George by Robert Kardashian-Shalom Y'all Men's Socks (Neiman Marcus)

The look on my face must have conveyed to her what I was thinking at the moment of said gift presentation, which was something to the effect of, "I wouldn't wear these socks if I were stuck in the freezing tundra and all my toes had frostbite; not to mention I can buy 20 pairs of socks at Costco for 50 bucks!"

She gave me the receipt from Neiman Marcus listing the purchase of the Arthur George by Robert Kardashian holiday star socks and told me I should feel free to exchange them if I wished. At that moment, I was thinking I couldn't get myself to the mall fast enough... but not before I blogged about these corny socks. And by the way, wasn't Robert Kardashian one of OJ Simpson's attorneys and I thought he died several years ago. That last part about Robert Kardashian I must have said aloud, because my grandmother (who incidentally stays quite current on pop culture) then began to explain that the socks were from designer Rob Karshashian, who is the son of OJ's deceased lawyer and the sister of the Kardashian sisters of reality TV fame. My head was already spinning by the time she mentioned something about the former Olympic star Bruce Jenner and Kanye West. Thanks Grandma!

At this point I didn't think I could find a tackier Hanukkah gift, but I was mistaken. Arriving at the office of my tech company on Monday I found a wrapped Hanukkah gift from one of my employees. Wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, I had to double check it that it was actually for me. When I unwrapped the paper I found a Hallmark Christmas tree ornament of a dancing reindeer with a menorah for antlers. Nice! I'll chalk that one up to a gag gift.

hanukkah christmas tree ornament keepsake hallmark

I think I would have rather gotten the wooden dreidel with the face of rap legend Dr. Dre, founder of Beats By Dre headphones. Hannah Rothstein's laser-etched wooden instrument features four different images of Dr. Dre, each selected to correlate with a Hebrew letter (no word if she's going to create an Israeli version with the letter "peh" in place of the "shin." The Dr. Dre-del is laser etched by Chris McCoy of you3Dit and is currently not available for purchase. It's a pretty impressive piece of art, but could still find itself in the category of kitsch.

The wildly popular Elf on a Shelf Christmas gift has inspired several kitschy Hanukkah takeoffs including Mensch on a Bench and Maccabee on the Mantel. Mensch on a Bench recently made headlines after its founder, entrepreneur Neal Hoffman, received a $150,000 investment for 15 percent ownership from Sharks Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec on ABC’s "Shark Tank" show giving his company a million dollar valuation.
Maccabee on the Mantel for Hanukkah

Maccabee on the Mantel might be a kitschy gift like Elf on the Shelf and Mensch on a Bench, but it comes with a Hanukkah book for children that has received acclaim for teaching the story of Hanukkah. As these tacky plush toys gain popularity there will continue to be copycats. For example, Joanna Brichetto, who blogs as the Bible Belt Balabusta and creates fun educational activities for Jewish children, has posted a few of her Elf on the Shelf-like creations on her website. These include Schnorrer on a Menorah, Schlemiel on a Wheel and Schmuck on a Truck. A cute way to teach people a few Yiddish words, but kitschy and tacky nevertheless.

Schnorrer on a Menorah

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